Maybe it was the excessive hype or maybe it was the high standards I set but I binge watched the immensely popular Stranger Things and The Night Of recently and didn’t like either of them that much! I’ll start by saying that I didn’t hate them, they were both enjoyable and I would probably watch a second season of each, but they just didn’t hit all the right buttons for me. In my opinion, there are far better shows that deserve the hype that these two got. In the golden age of television, there are much better shows we should be raving about.
I watched Stranger Things first out of the two, usually watching one or two episodes a night for a week. I appreciated the smaller eight-episode season, also seen in The Night Of, really hoping that this is the future for TV series. The first episode was intriguing, I enjoyed that it was set in the eighties and even gave it a pass on some of its over-the-top cheesiness. I thought the kid actors were good and Winona Ryder played the helpless mother with a good heart perfectly. Having seen the trailers I knew that the character of Will went missing, so waiting through the first episode I was excited for the series to start.
My biggest issue with Stranger Things and this also applies to The Night Of also, I feel like although the series were short, they could have been made even shorter. The storyline, in my opinion, could have easily fit into a two-hour film, and I think it would have suited that format better. What I think thrillers like Stranger Things need are cliff-hanger episodes, I want to finish an episode and can’t help watch the next episode which Netflix conveniently automatically starts playing for me. With Stranger Things I just didn’t care about the storyline at all, I didn’t feel like the storyline was gripping enough to keep me interested.
I did watch the entire series, I think the last few episodes were the best and I will watch the next series because it seems they are interested in exploring the mythology more. The part that frustrated me the most was how easy the teenagers managed to destroy the monster. It seems that the final scene shows they are ready to explore this element more in the second season. I also didn’t like the lack of information given about the government scheme behind the whole situation. After watching eight episodes I want to know more about eleven and why she does what she does. If Netflix hadn’t picked Stranger Things up for a second season would you be happy with how the mythology was resolved?
The Night Of was the series I was more excited to start, having heard good things and finally waited for it to arrive on UK TV I eagerly started the first episode. I actually thought the first episode was really good, I enjoyed the characters, the way the story was told and obviously the mystery surrounding the murder. I especially enjoyed the scenes in the police office after he is arrested, the tension of knowing they will link him to the crime is some of the best TV I’ve seen all year. Having watched the first episode in the evening, we decided to wait until the next day to watch the second, but I was eager to see where the series would go.
I don’t know if it was my fault for expecting something different or the show for not delivering, but I just felt like The Night Of missed out on so many opportunities. At first, I thought they would explore the discrimination the Muslim community receive, but they didn’t explore this to the extent they could have. Then I thought this would be a gradual murder case, each episode leaving its subtle clues to help understand who the real killer was, but this didn’t seem to happen. That was my biggest disappointment for the series, in the first episode, I was glued to every detail hoping that it would help decipher the case. It ended up just being a character-driven plot, mainly focussed around Naz and his lack-luster Jack Stone.
Another problem that I had was the lack of motive that Naz has, in the first episode he was a timid student just looking to finally get invited to a party and have a good time. As soon as he’s put in prison, he becomes a drug-smuggling, tattoo wearing and inmate beating thug who is pissed off at everyone. I didn’t understand why he changed, I know prison changes you but if you’re innocent you don’t let it change you.
There has not yet been confirmation of a second series of The Night Of, but I hope there is just to get some closure on this whole case. I just didn’t like the way the story unfolded, I felt like I watch eight episodes of seeing Naz turn into a bad person and still not knowing if he did commit the murder or not. The series had no real revelations, it introduced secondary suspects but gave no resolutuions into if any of them had anything to do with the murder. I just feel like The Night Of was a wasted opportunity.
Although I say I didn’t like Stranger Things and The Night Of, the truth is I just feel they were a wasted opportunity. Had they met what I expected and hoped for them to be I would be first to watch their second seasons. It seems I might be in the minority with my opinions with Stanger Things being Netflix’s third biggest opening 35 days for adults 18-49 and The Night Of brining in a respectable 2.16 million for it’s extended finale, with more figures expecting from streaming online. Let’s see if the shows can iron out any of these problems in their sophmore seasons.